6 Guardrails to Protect Your Health While Traveling like a Boss
Updated: Nov 29, 2019
I remember the day I turned my expense report into my boss and he said, "Wait, let me guess what's on this expense report... um, burger, fries and two beers at the airport."
He was 100% correct.
It was a funny / not so funny moment. (Actually, it was one of many wake-up calls to change my lifestyle.)
When I started traveling for work about 20 years ago, I did not have any real discipline which is why I ended up 40 lbs overweight and constantly sore.
I had zero energy. I had no idea I could positively impact my energy with the choices I made on the road.
I really didn't think it was possible to live a healthy life on the road, honestly.
I knew I had to start somewhere. So one of the very first things I did when I decided to put my own health first was to put in some very specific Guardrails to my life. I call them Guardrails because they are the "life rules" that help to keep you from careening off of the road.
Over the years, my rules have evolved, for example I eat a lot less carbs now than I did when I wrote the original rules out (yes, I actually wrote down the original rules). Portion control has become a big part of my routine and the workouts have become much more disciplined.
But if you need a place to start, here are my top 6 Guardrails for prioritizing your health while you are living the road warrior life. In fact, these rules apply anytime you travel -- including vacation.
Guardrail Rule #1: The 5 P’s
This is the number one rule for a reason. Go in to your travel with a plan. Identify when you have the time to fit your workout in (notice I said when not if). Chances are you are traveling to meet with clients and that 30 minutes you invest in moving your body is going to help you bring your A-game to your meeting later that day.
Are you going out for dinner and drinks with a client? Pull up the menu ahead of time and decide on what you will have before you get to the restaurant and are easily influenced by all the smells and what others are ordering. Can you swap fries for steamed veggies? Do it!
Making healthy choices don't "just happen." You have to be intentional and plan for prioritizing your own health. And if you are still wondering what the 5 P’s mean – Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
Guardrail Rule #2: Travel Like a 2-Year-Old
Do you have toddlers? Have you had toddlers? Have you ever seen anyone travel with toddlers? What is the one thing you would never have traveled without? A snack bag!
That magic bag that the parents could pull out anytime anyone gets a bit fussy. Think the same way and bring your own. Pack healthy snacks, nut butters, dried fruit (in moderation), healthy snack bars. I travel with a superfood smoothie powder I can make into a delicious cookie dough at instantly.
You know that Snickers commercial where the guy turns into a horrible version of himself because he's so hungry? Yeah... you become that guy without the snack bag. So pack it up. Take it with you everywhere. You get the drill.
Guardrail Rule #3: Workout Before Wine
Alcohol is a quick way to get a whole bunch of empty calories in. Alcohol hijacks the liver so that it cannot burn off any fat until all the alcohol is processed.
You better have pushed yourself for 30 minutes before you start doing 6 oz curls. You know what else I've discovered? If I "workout before wine", I typically consume less alcohol. The endorphins are kicking and I don't feel the need to unravel my hard work in the gym by being excessive with the cocktails. One healthy decision always leads to another.
(And yes, we absolutely follow Workout before Wine on our vacations.)
Guardrail Rule #4: Taste the Rainbow
In my original rules, I had one that centered around not eating brown food. Truth be told, I still avoid it but that’s really not enough. You need to eat all kinds of colors, including brown (just not a lot of brown). Load up on the greens, the yellows, reds are fantastic and purples are usually out of this world good. Just make sure the colors are from your actual food and not a lab somewhere.
Which leads me to a subset rule I still have called "See Fruit, Eat Fruit". Whether it's the Admiral's Club, the hotel lobby, or even at the airport, you'll be surprised how many opportunities you have to grab an apple on the go when you are aware of it.
Guardrail Rule #5: Never Let a Rest Day be a Cheat Day
Pretty simple but needs to be said. You can take a day off from working out. You can take a day off from being on top of your nutrition. You should never take a day off from both simultaneously. Yep, even on vacation. You gotta pick one or the other. And never let more than 2 rest days sabotage your week. Make day 3 non-negotiable if you've "taken a break" for whatever reason.
Guardrail Rule #6: Carry your own Water Bottle
We all know we should drink more water, regardless if we are on the road or not, but this is especially true when you are traveling. When you are on the road you are constantly placed in environments that are actively working to suck the water out of you. From the unfamiliar the climate of the destination city to the airplane cabin that delivered you there, there are forces at work to steal your water. So drink up.
In our home, we like to start our day with a big 15 oz glass of water...even before coffee. Water fires up your metabolism, hydrates you, helps your body flush out toxins, gives your brain fuel, and may even make you eat less. So make it your first healthy choice of the day and then keep that water bottle with you wherever you go.
I truly believe these 6 guardrails can help you take back control over your health. We do not have to be a victim to the work we do. We can thrive and achieve more than we ever thought possible....but it starts with taking care of our health. We think the negative effects of our choices are 10 years away and I'm telling you, they are happening right now. Your expense report will tell you all you need to know, just like it did for me.
Interested in digging a bit deeper?